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Genre: Comedy, Drama

Directed by: Roman Polanski

Starring: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz

What’s better than watching critically acclaimed actress Kate Winslet throwing up on screen? The answer is resoundingly simple: everything. Anything else would in fact be better than watching the CBE awarded actress lowering herself to the obnoxious drivel that appears on screen in Carnage.

In case you hadn’t already guessed, I’m not a fan of Roman Polanski’s comedy-drama. It’s not often that I find absolutely no redeeming qualities within a film, but with Carnage I struggled to find anything remotely appealing throughout the 80 minutes of screen time. What’s more is that the film has secured strangely positive reviews elsewhere, which makes me wonder if I was actually watching the same film. Is there some parallel universe mystery going on here?

The premise is a simple one. Two pairs of parents, the Longstreets and the Cowans, meet for what they intend to be a cordial and adult convention after their sons are involved in a fight, where it seems one child was more to blame than the other. As these parents settle in to each other’s company, their behaviour spirals childishly into pandemonium as the state of their parenting, as well as their marriages, gets bought in to the equation.

Carnage was self-indulgent and monotonous nonsense, a smaller scale film that suffered at the hands of Polanski and the so-called ‘dark comedy’. If the dialogue hadn’t been so pitiful it may have actually been amusing, or perhaps even clever, but there wasn’t a shred of wittiness to be enjoyed. It’s made all the worse by the fact that the actors ping-pong between the inside of the apartment and the hallway directly outside, something that’s utterly pointless and unrealistic.

It baffles me as to how they managed to get such a great cast on board. Did they blackmail the actors with revelations of naked pictures or threaten their lives? Short of these extreme measures I can’t understand what attracted the cast to the script. Even the marvellous Christoph Waltz was a bore to watch and that’s something I never thought I’d say.

I found it difficult to sit through the childish behaviour playing out on screen and, whilst I realise that’s probably what Polanski intended, their conduct is so far-fetched that you just can’t believe in the characters or their relationships.  The shallow and cynical portrayal of parents and their inability to resolve situations makes me fear for the future of the world.

I appreciate the idea behind the film, but it’s safe to say this is not Polanski at his best. The acting is forced and the humour is so subtle I missed it entirely. Dark comedies aren’t really my forte and I’ve read that this is the type of film you have to watch multiple times to fully appreciate. For my own sanity, I think one watch is more than enough.


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